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Reviewed 25 February 2018

8 family adults vacationed here Jan 13-20, 2018 and had a great trip. The resort is large and spread out with well maintained grounds. While being a 'newer' hotel, it's seen a lot of use as you could tell from the scuffed up state of your room door to the somewhat tired curtains. Must say that the rain shower was great! Decor is exactly as pictured. Visit the RIU next door for a totally different feel.

We were in room 1050 which is was on an interior corner of the U shaped main building near the outdoor evening theater. Not a good view (partial roof, outdoor stage, chairs, with some greenery if you peered over the railing to the right). I'd recommended a room further toward the water. We thought about moving, but decided we weren't in the room that often, and this one was close to the main lobby and the workout/spa.

Pools were great and there is a lot more available shade than I thought there would be from the website photos. There are adjustable canopies over the sunbeds, and a few sections with umbrellas. Plenty of chairs readily available, even for our party of 8. The pool games & staff were a lot of fun - we had a few in our party who did EVERYTHING, then those who were doing the yoga & Zumba sessions. When at the beach, staff was always available to get you sunbeds and move them wherever you cared to sit. Beach waiters were pretty on top of things, so that was nice. All beaches in CR are public and protected, so be prepared for a) a bit of a walk to the beach with no nearby bar/restrooms and b) vendors selling all types of things...just say no thank you and they move on. We walked to the south just a bit and there is an area with vendors selling all types of souvenirs and where the beach massages (non-resort) were set up. $35 for an hour long massage! Lots of monkeys in that area!

The food was excellent throughout the resort and we had no problems getting our party of 8 into any restaurant we wanted. We'd put in our name and then meet in the lobby bar until our 'buzzer' sounded that our table was ready. Never had a very long wait. The one night we opted for the dinner buffet was seafood night, so plenty of mussels, shrimp, crab legs...very good! Two of us had lunch in the Italian restaurant off the main lobby one day and they have a fabulous hot buffet with pastas, pizzas, etc., as well as cold antipasti. We ordered off the menu and rack of lamb was very good. Wish I had found this lunch spot earlier in our stay! Every day there was a buffet luncheon set up poolside and for those wanting to sit at tables, go to the building near the beach.

Overall, we really had a good time and enjoyed 7 days of beautiful weather, good food, good service & great company!

  • Stayed: January 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
9  Thank Gretchen M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2018

Had a great time here. The staff is very pleasant and friendly. The hotel is clean. I only have two minor complaints, getting bugged about excursions every time we went to the beach got a bit old and the food was a bit hit or miss. Some of it was very good and some was pretty bad. Stick with the main buffet and skip the other restaurants. I would definitely go back.

  • Stayed: February 2018, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Service
3  Thank Kevin K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2018

We have been going on vacation in February for the last 20 years, mostly all inclusives. We've seen the good, bad and ugly. We go with the same group of friends (last 4 years) and are all in our mid-late 40's. This was our first time to Costa Rica, we've been to Riu's in DR and Mexico before, but have been to lots of other AI resorts (Iberostar, Secrets, Grand Palladium, El Dorado, etc). We emailed the resort prior to arriving to request rooms close to each of the other couples and received the typical, we will try message. When we arrived two of us were in the same wing and one couple could not have been further away. They said they couldn't do anything and they could move the next day. As with typical AI resorts, I thought the front desk staff was a little snooty and not very friendly - oh well, no big deal as we only had to deal with them once. But strike one.

As with my other reviews, I will start off with an overview and list the details later. The overall resort was pretty good, the good was good, but the bad was really disappointing. Rooms were ok - not great or bad, but like others have said the bathtub in the middle of the room was weird and just didn't fit. The sewage smell the first couple of days was very bad in the bathroom - yuck! The food was very disappointing, the lack of being able to make a reservation was really bad for those that like to stay at the pool bar later which means your only choice is really the buffet. Based on other reviewers negative views on this, maybe they will change. Food was mediocre to poor at specialty restaurants and buffet was ok. We all said we would not want to go back to any of the specialty restaurants after we tried them. The pools were very worn and showed their age and I agree with all the other reviewers and believe there are a lot of people that pee in the pool bar pool and I also think that pool is too small for the number of guests. The beach was not as bad as others have said (more detail below). The staff service was hit and miss - as with most things with this resort the good was very good, but when you got poor service it was really poor. I don't want others to think based on the above that it's a terrible resort - it's not. But there was quite a few things that have been better at other resorts where we've spent about the same amount of money or less.

Rooms - since we were repeat guests we thought we may get an upgrade like at other resorts - nope. I think it may have been because we booked through a different company (SW Vaca versus Apple or FunJet). The rooms were ok. Pillows not very good, bed kinda hard, but we never let the rooms be a reason we like or don't like a place as we are not there to stay in our room, we are there for all the other amenities. Shower was nice. Overall, I'd give the room a 4 out of 5.

Grounds/Pools - grounds were beautiful and very well kept. The pools were worn and are definitely showing their age. We went over to the Guanacaste pools and liked them much better. All pool areas were better on the other side (more shade, lots of trees, waterfalls) - wish we would have ventured over there earlier. Pool activities during the day were ok to good. I thought the Entertainment staff at other resorts seems more engaged with the guests and some of them made it seem like they were kinda bored and going through the motions of their job versus really liking their job. Pools on the Palace side - 2.5 out of 5. Pools on the Guanacaste side 4 out of 5. Pool service was hit or miss. We did have one of the servers bring us drinks to the beach. I think his name was Giovanni - really, really nice.

Food/Restaurants/Bar - Krystal - did not like, Italian - ok, Papagayo (steak house) - ok, Japanese - did not like. As with most AI breakfast buffets, it was the best meal of the day. Made to order omlets, lots of choices, food was hot/warm. I don't eat lunch on vacation, but my husband went to Papagayo for lunch and liked it. The others in our group didn't like it very much. Buffets were typical AI buffets and had lots of choices, but I just thought the food was not as good as in most other AI resorts. I had stomach issues the entire time, but have them at home too so I'm not going to blame the restaurants/food for my issues, but it was definitely worse. Service at the restaurants was just ok. No one seemed that interested in making sure we had a good service experience at any of the restaurants except one lady at the buffet, but I forgot her name - she was very good. Food/Food Service 3 out of 5.

Dennis was very good at the Stage Bar and remembered what I drank each night and was very good.

Beach - we never laid out by the beach like we usually do every day on our other vacations. Couple of reasons why that had nothing to do with the resort. It was very, very windy and the sand is so fine that it blows around and gets in your drink, in your eyes, etc. And it was very hot - not the hotel's fault. The beach sand was a little more course, but others made the beach seems absolutely aweful and it wasn't. I was expecting much worse.

Excursions - we did walk to the Monkey Bar. It was ok. Good food and drinks and costs comparable to the US. I'm glad we did it and would suggest it for a different kind of vacation experience.

We also chartered a private catamaran through El Refugio - very, very good. It was expensive, but I would do it a million times over. They took us to a secluded beach that had the coolest sand I've ever seen - it was black and white mixed together and super soft. We also had lunch on the boat and watched the sunset.

We booked our other excursion with Alex on the Beach. Waterfall, river rafting/fishing and sloth garden. Long day and drive, but good excursion to see the "real" Costa Rica outside the modern resort. Crazy Alex was our tour guide and he was excellent. I would definitely request him if I were to book this excursion. Very knowledgeable about Costa Rican culture, food, and plants. Plan a full day for this one. 7am pickup and 6pm return.

My husband and another one of our friends did the Diamante ziplines next door to the resort. They thought it was well worth the money and you only need to commit about 90 minutes of your day if you want to do ziplining.

So that's about it. I'm still looking at the Average rating I gave the resort and feel a little bad as I think it has the potential to be so much better. Costa Rica is a developing country and not like Mexico so what you will see in Costa Rica is nothing like Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Being completely transparent, it's a poor country that needs infrastructure. It's a bit depressing from the drive to and from the airport. But the people are very nice and very proud of their culture which is warm and appreciative.

We don't repeat resorts so we probably won't go back to this property, but not because we disliked it that much - there are just so many other places to see in the world.

  • Stayed: February 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
9  Thank CaesarKelley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RiuHotelsandResorts, Online Reputation Manager at Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica, responded to this reviewResponded 2 March 2018

Dear guest,

Thank you for choosing RIU Hotels & Resorts once again for your vacation and for taking the time to give us your constructive and valued feedback. We are very disappointed to find that this time your experience did not live up to what you usually expect from us. As a global brand, we strive to maintain consistent levels of quality in our hotels throughout the world.

We appreciate our guests’ comments since they help us improve our services, and for this reason, we will share your impressions with the relevant department in line with the main goal to achieve the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

We sincerely hope you will give us another chance to demonstrate the high standards of service and quality that are typical of our hotels.

With our best wishes we remain,

Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Online Reputation Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2018

My wife and I visited February 12 - 19, 2018. The beach is volcanic sand so it is almost black and gets hot during the day so have something on your feet if you are not on wet sand. Very large hotel and until you figure out where you are going it is confusing. We will summarize the other pluses and minuses.
Plus
- Reasonably close to the Liberia airport
- Clean and safe
- excellent food with a wide selection although sometimes not hot in the buffet
- large rooms and in ours everything worked fine
- 4 pools so therefore not overly crowded
- excellent service, friendly staff

Minus
- resort is rather remote, closest town is about 20 minutes by vehicle and the roads in Costa Rica are typically in poor condition so getting around takes a long time
- drunks at the swim up bar; stay away from there if you want some peace and quiet
- in our opinion, the decor is odd for a tropical beach resort
- expensive excursions although I guess that is getting to be the same everywhere
- lack of washrooms anywhere near the beach and pools (i.e. don't drink the water....)

We enjoyed our vacation at Rui Palace for the most part although were happy to head home after a week. Would we return to Riu Palace? Likely not as there are many other places to see and visit.

Room Tip: Garden view rooms would be the quietest.
  • Stayed: February 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
4  Thank wadeandjan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 February 2018 via mobile

Have been to both Riu hotels in Guanacaste. The first room we went to had a sulphur smell. It only occurs when you flush. I spoke to the staff they told me the plumbing was being treated. Stayed overnight in the room thought the smell
L would clear. It did not. My wife checked out different fooms,five, they a
L had the smell. Bottom line I wound up having to pay for doctor's visits, medicine and nebulizing treatments at the resort. When I left the resort I stop had to go the hospital because the fumes triggered an asthma attack. I complained before I left but a Mr. Madrid said write a complaint , that was more than a week and I have not received any response. I believe that complaint procedure is bogus. I am very disappointed with reckless and non caring behavior of hotel management. Who treats plumbing pipes with chemical agents while guests are staying in rooms? I'm still receiving treatment while I'm on vacation in CR. This trip was not the vacation we planned.
Cesar Cardona

Stayed: February 2018, travelled as a couple
4  Thank Roving370008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RiuHotelsandResorts, Online Reputation Manager at Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica, responded to this reviewResponded 2 March 2018

Dear guest,

Thank you for your loyalty to RIU Hotels & Resorts and for taking the time to give us your valued feedback. We were concerned to note that this time we failed to live up to your expectations.

We kindly encourage you to contact your travel agency or our Customer Service Department only in case of direct booking via crm@riu.com for further assistance since we have not been able to track your case with the information provided.

We hope you will choose to visit us again, and give us a chance to demonstrate the high standards of guest service that are typical at our resorts.

With our best wishes we remain,

Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Online Reputation Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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